With concerns lingering about President Donald Trump’s health, a debate between the incumbent and the Democratic nominee Joe Biden scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami has been tentatively canceled.
After the Commission on Presidential Debates ordered the debate to go remote, the President said he wouldn’t attend.
Trump called the moderator, Steve Scully, a “Never Trumper.” Scully is a senior executive producer and political editor of C-SPAN Networks, and has no obvious ties with that movement.
Steve Scully, the second Debate Moderator, is a Never Trumper, just like the son of the great Mike Wallace. Fix!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 9, 2020
Miami’s debate would’ve been the second of three. The first was aired from Cleveland, Ohio, and a third is set for Oct. 22, to be filmed from Nashville’s Curb Event Center, provided the president tests negative and both candidates, alongside the debate commission, can agree on terms.
During the first debate, “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace struggled to make the candidates abide by the rules. The nonpartisan debate commission said it would reevaluate, and then came days of back and forth on possible changes to the format. But then came President Trump’s test results, and the decision was to hold it virtually.
The plan to host it in Miami was officially submitted by the Adrienne Arsht Center and approved by the Miami-Dade County Commissioners in July. It was supposed to follow local, state and CDC health and safety protocols. Unfortunately, given the debate commission’s concern that President Trump could still carry the virus and be contagious, the proposed new measures sunk the deal.
In response, the president rejected the commission’s decision that same day.
“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” he said in a phone interview with Fox News Channel. “I’m not going to waste my time. That’s not what debates are all about.” He argued debate moderators could cut him off whenever they wanted.
ABC later announced in a press release that former vice president Biden would participate in a primetime solo town hall in Philadelphia in place of the debate. The announcement came hours after the president pulled out because of the sudden change in format.
The town Hall will be monitored by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos.
JUST IN: @ABC News will host a town hall with @JoeBiden moderated by @GStephanopoulos on October 15th. The primetime event will take place in Philadelphia where the former vice president will answer questions from voters. pic.twitter.com/7IPzdqK9Sx
— ABC News (@ABC) October 8, 2020
Kate Bedingfield, deputy campaign manager and communications director for the Biden campaign, wrote in a statement that, “Trump’s erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar, and pick new dates of his choosing,” and said they look forward to participating in the final debate.
The president wants to hold a rally Saturday in Florida “if we have enough time to put it together,” he said.
The president is expected to take another test today, exactly one week after he flew to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for a three-day hospitalization following his positive COVID-19 test.
Dr. Sean Conley, the president’s physician says he expects a “safe return to public engagements” for the president.
Still, some Florida residents aren’t convinced. On Thursday afternoon, a complaint was filed in Miami-Dade County’s Eleventh’s Judicial Court in relation to the debates.
The plaintiffs, who include several Miami-Dade residents and at least one doctor, argue that the county is a deadly epicenter of COVID-19, and that the President’s need to carry Florida in the elections will push him to host a rally in Florida, likely in Miami-Dade, “which will result in injury to the health of Miami-Dade and in direct violation of his administration’s own guidelines,” the lawsuit reads.
Meanwhile, vice president Pence will be visiting Orlando this weekend for a “Latinos for Trump” event. Reports from Conley on the president’s condition ahead of his Saturday plans are expected to come sometime before that.